Sunday, November 30

a quiet weekend

Since returning to Brooklyn on Friday night I've come down with a nasty cold. Sore throat, sneezing, coughing, congestion. I walked down to Park Slope yesterday to get some groceries, and the trip really wiped me out. I don't think I'll be going out today, especially since it seems to be sleeting or something.

I spent most of yesterday on the sofa in the living room, wrapped in a blanket with Dinah and reading The Golden Compass. I'd been wanting to read it, and when we stopped into my parents' local used bookstore on Friday morning I bought a copy. I finished it last night. It was alright, a little more complex and interesting than Harry Potter, but still not great literature. Still, I'll see if I can track down the next book at the library. I'd like to know what happens next.

Christopher once again made dinner last night. I decided that we should have some leftover pasta with broccoli that I'd made on Monday night, and stuck the whole bowl in the microwave. Christopher came in and took over, saying that he'd rather heat it up in a pan with garlic and oil. And then he added the leftover tomato sauce he'd made on Friday night. It was delicious. I asked him if he's actually a chef and has just been hiding his skills from me for the past 5 and a half years. (I swear, all I've ever heard him say is that good food is not worth the effort of cooking it. But hello, he just chose to cut up garlic and saute it, which I think takes more effort than microwaving it.)

I was in bed and reading by 11 last night, and was disturbed by some loud banging in the hallway. It sounded like someone was trying to knock down a door, and I padded out in my PJs to see what was going on. (I wasn't alone, there were many heads peering down the stairwell to see where the noise was coming from.) It turned out that the super was trying to break down a door on the 4th floor. The residents weren't home, and a torrent of water was pouring into the lobby downstairs. It looked like the people below them (on the 3rd and 2nd floors) also weren't home. There was a small crowd watching the super, and another crowd watching the waterfall. can you see there's an inch or two of water on the floor? And that there is more streaming off the ceiling fixture?

I'm not sure how it resolved itself, but the water was turned off for a few hours, and a firetruck sat outside for a while too. I can only imagine what those folks will find when they get home. There was another flood in the building a month or two ago, and these same apartments lost the ceilings in their bathrooms. Oh, I'm glad I live on the top floor!

Friday, November 28

home again

Oh, we are back! I can't wait to sleep in our very firm queen sized bed tonight; the sag and smallness of the double bed at my parents' does not agree with my back! (sorry Mom!)

Tuesday night my father showed us his bounty-- many textiles bought in India. Many of the fabrics are meant as Christmas gifts, but before he went my mother and I somehow convinced him to buy yardage and what he brought us is gorgeous. I am moving closer and closer to doing some sort of quilting, though there's yardage enough of these prints for a dress or skirt, and should probably think carefully about whether I'll make a quilt. He also bought many beautiful scarves and several quilts, most of which I didn't photograph.

Our Thanksgiving was fairly uneventful. My mother, Christopher and I cooked for most of the day on Thursday. My father watched the first part of Game 5 of the World Series, which he'd TiVoed but not yet watched. Christopher's family came at around 4, and we had dinner on the table at exactly 5, which was actually quite amazing. (Amazing in that 5 o'clock was the goal, and we met it.) The food was pretty good, the company fine and the night not too long. The house actually warmed up quite a bit with the oven and various wood fires that my father got going once he arrived. (Apparently hooking up all the vents was just too big a project and was not done by the end of the day on Wednesday.) It was comfortable and no one complained. The pies were delicious.
Today we had a very friendly visit with my Brown cousins, and then we hopped a bus back to New York. Christopher is actually currently making pasta sauce, since he doesn't like the vodka sauce I bought. I'm trying not to get too excited about this, but those who know him should know to be impressed. This is a man who subsisted on pizza, yogurt and breakfast cereal before we moved in together, and who actually made a fuss when I suggested that we would share meals nightly as a married couple. This man is now making pasta sauce, without a recipe and while I blog in the other room. I'm trying not to be too hopeful that this is a sign of our future together, but man, it would be nice!

Tuesday, November 25


I've left New York for the holiday, taking the bus to Philadelphia this morning with a promise to go through my old closet and throw things away so my parents could have a little less clutter.

I got here ready to do some major closet cleaning, but it wasn't so clear what I was supposed to sort through, and my mom was at work, so I spent a few hours rereading letters I'd received from friends when I was in college. What's most interesting about these letters is that they were written right on the cusp of email-- one friend tells me that she has a new account that she's sharing with a friend-- and there are no letters from friends who did have email. There are also some really sweet and funny notes from my grandfather, who had just turned 90 and was designing and building a secretary for me. It's nice to remember that he was so sharp and witty; he was so frail and grumpy his final few years. (He lived to be 99 and a half, if you're wondering.)

I'm currently waiting for my mother to get home from teaching. Christopher is coming tonight and my dad is also flying in from his vacation to India (yeah, I know). My father is a major DIYer, and sometime this summer he disconnected the heat vents in order to do some maintenance (perhaps he was going to install an AC unit?), and never bothered to reconnect them. It wasn't so bad throughout the fall, but the last few weeks --weeks when Dad was in balmy India-- my mother has been freezing here. The house is very drafty and has 14' ceilings, so it's also not so easy to just cuddle up with a space heater. Hopefully this will be solved before Thursday, but in the meantime I'm cold. It's almost paralyzing. I am baking some sweet potatoes in hopes that the kitchen will warm up a few degrees, and I have on my hat and a heavy wool sweater and a blanket wrapped around my shoulders. I wish I had my fingerless gloves...

(photo added 11/28)

Saturday, November 22

my first knitted design

This summer I got a hankering for a knitted t-shirt. Not the Hanes type, more the skater type, wool with short sleeves worn over something with longer sleeves. I already had a pink sweater tee, a vintage thing bought at a thrift store, which I liked to wear under a cardigan on really cold days.

The problem was that I couldn't find the right pattern. I had decided to use one of the giant balls of yarn that I got in Denmark (and of course there wasn't that much of it) and I also wanted it to look slightly feminine and fashionable. Nothing was out there for the weight of yarn, yardage and style of my sweater. And so I decided to design one myself. The yarn was a DK or worsted (though listed as fingering in Ravelry), and I made a swatch of various lace designs from Barbara Walker, hoping the yarn would tell me what to do. There were weird color gradations in the swatch that I hadn't anticipated, and when I washed it it softened and bloomed considerably. I decided on a top down pattern, so I could try it on while I knit, and an all over lace design.

When I wound the yarn on Tony's winder, I discovered that I had about half the yardage that I thought I did (the label only told me the weight), which meant that I needed something else to fill out my sweater, since I didn't want a cropped T. This led me on a bit of a search, and I finally settled on some naturally dyed yarn from the Hope Spinnery, which I bought back when I visited the shop in August. And then I cast on and knit.

It actually wasn't so hard to knit, once I'd figured out my measurements and what direction I was going in. I added short rows on the back and on the sleeves to make the whole thing sit a little more comfortably. At one point I thought I'd run out of yarn mid-torso and have an overly wide lavender band at the bottom, but that didn't happen. I also added a partial trellis and pear pattern down the side, to both add a little extra interest and to hide where the two sides meet up. Overall, I'm very happy with the result. I realize that the yarn is a little funky, but oh well. I like it, and it reminds me of my trips to Denmark and Maine, and that makes me happy. (I was actually with my friend Laura when I bought both, and so the sweater reminds me of her, too.)

I'm already getting a lot of use out of it. It's exactly what I wanted.

Sunday, November 16


It's done. Christopher's sweater, I mean.
This is more than a feat than you might think. I started this sweater back in May of last year (yes, '07) and actually finished knitting it by the end of last summer. When I'd pieced it together and had Christopher try it on, it was clear that the sweater was a disaster. It was enormous, and the sleeves didn't fit into the armholes.
My solution? I tore out the collar and cut a chunk out of the back. And then I redesigned and reknit the sleeves. It was painful. The first sleeve cap didn't fit into the armhole and so I had to redesign and reknit the sleeve cap again. Which I did, but then I lost my mojo and couldn't bring myself to tear out the first sleeve cap. And then I forgot what I'd done to make it fit.

This fall, with a little encouragement from my mother, and continued questioning from Christopher, I reknit the second sleeve cap and sewed it on. Done. Today for the first time it was cool enough for Christopher to wear it, and I took some photos while we were at the Botanical Garden. It still isn't a great fit, but it's better than it was. And I am actually prouder of it than of most of the other things I've made. There's a lot of love in that garment.

Pattern: Jarrett by Kim Hargreaves, from Rowan Vintage Knits
Yarn: Ultra Alpaca, knit on #7 needles

Saturday, November 15


As I said recently, I've been on a roll with finishing projects. Christopher's sweater is finally done (though not photographed) and I also finished the lace t-shirt I designed for myself (though only photographed flat). Someday I'll photograph them and you can see what I'm talking about!

In any case, means that I don't have anything big on the needles-- no sweaters, just a lacy scarf and a shawl, both from Victorian Lace Today. The shawl is a long term sort of thing. I'm to the point where there are 500 or so stitches per row, and I made the mistake of calculating how many more stitches I need to completion: roughly 10,000. I know that this is actually very doable, but the number has me slightly paralyzed. This was the shawl back when a row didn't take me over an hour to knit!

The scarf is actually zooming along; I take it on the subway and am able to do about 3/4 of a pattern repeat done per day (there are 20 repeats for the whole scarf). Recently I noticed though that about two repeats down I missed a yarn over, and I'm not sure whether I really want to rip out all that lace or just keep going. I'm lazy, but it looks really bad. (the mistake is not in the photo, so don't bother looking for it!)

Anyway, this brings me to mittens.

I have cold hands. In fact, I have condition that makes my fingers go numb if they go below a certain temperature. Holding a cold drink can trigger it, even in the summer, or a brisk day. I have a very trusty pair of mittens, knit several years ago and I usually wear them all winter with a pair of store bought glove liners underneath to keep my fingers from going numb. But wouldn't it be nice to have a pair of mittens that were actually warm enough? Perhaps they would be lined with something soft?? I'm still on the lookout for the perfect mittens, and the perfect pattern. I've already cast on one pair, and am not sure whether they're The Ones yet or not. Stay tuned.

To get me in the mood, I decided to knit some more mittens for the latest Afghans for Afghans drive, which this time is for children's mittens. I wasn't feeling so inspired to start until I saw a post on Ravelry about the thrummed mittens someone was making. I cast on immediately, and was halfway through the first mitten in an hour or two. I brought it to my knitting night on Tuesday and finished it, realizing (or knowing all along) that I didn't have enough yarn to make a second mitten. Flickr won't let me flip this photo vertically, so I apologize for the weird angle.

Clearly the thrummed mitten is either just for me (though I'd prefer a more colorful background) or will just have to be finished later.

And so I cast on yet another pair of mittens, this one from the Easy Striped Mittens insert from Knit Simple. They knit up very quickly and I like how they look (though they still need to be blocked)

All of this brings me to the fact that I'm actually suddenly feeling inspired to make tons and tons of mittens. Have I have gone off the mitten deep end? Will my family all be receiving mittens in their stockings this year?

Wednesday, November 12

one of these things is not like the other

Last week when I was at the Coop, I bought a pumpkin for our pumpkin pie. A little further down the aisle were some different squashes, and I couldn't get past how beautiful one type was in particular. It looked sort of like a pumpkin but all wrinkly and with a powdery surface. I had to get it.When I was checking out, the worker picked up my squash quizzically and pronounced, "This is not the same as this," pointing to my pumpkin.

"I know," I said, "it's a squash."

She repeated her line, until I found the squash on her checkout screen for her.

Isn't a pumpkin a squash? The Donatello statue titled Zuccone is translated academically as "Pumpkin Head," when it literally means "big squash," and I don't think they had (or have) pumpkins in Florence. Hm...

Sunday, November 9

November update

I feel like I've just awoken from a long nap or something. I guess that's what happens when you have a break in your crazy work schedule.

The weather is beautiful. The leaves are nearly all off the trees, and those that are on are beautiful shades of yellow, red and orange. Today is sunny and bright, a day for being outside. I wish I had a yard I could do some work in. (I know, I could just walk down to the park and skip the work part, but I've sworn that today will be used for much needed apartment-fixing projects, and a walk to the park doesn't count.)

I have been finishing but not blogging various knitting projects. I've also not really been photographing them, so you may be hearing about them here and there.

First up: socks.
I have never had much interest in knitting socks. I mean, you can buy a decent pair for less than $5. But people seem to love making them, so I thought I'd give it a try. Of course, I knew that a plain sock would drive me crazy, so I picked a complicated pattern (Spring Forward from Knitty), and I started them on my trip to Cape Cod in early September. They were a great road trip project, and later turned into a good subway project. Of course, pulling my sock-in-progress out of my backpack over and over resulted in a broken needle, and so I knit most of this pair with 4 #1s and 1 #0 needle ala EZ. You can't tell, there's so much going on. Anyway, the last sock was sitting around for a few weeks, waiting for me to graft the toe, and I finally did it last week. Grafting is no big deal; not sure why I have such an aversion to it.

Second: handspun.
I don't even know when I stopped writing about my handspun. I've been trying to get back into spinning, and realized at some point recently that I haven't been treadling the wheel fast enough, so my yarn is a bit underspun (and extra fluffy). I am trying harder to treadle faster, and wonder if my wheel might benefit from some oil to help me do that. Of course, the whole point of this style of wheel is that it's not supposed to require lubrication. We'll see.

Anyway: yarns I've spun since I last blogged my spinning:
Two different colors of wool from roving bought at the Hope Spinnery this summer.
54 yards of orange30 yards of brown/orange/redthen there's 82 yards of the Blue Faced Leicester that I dyed with goldenrod this summer. And lastly, 69 yards of Jacob Sheep wool bought at Rhinebeck. I'm not doing so well with the yardage here. Clearly I should be trying to spin a little thinner.

Maybe I should also be trying to find something to make with my handspun. I seem to just be accumulating it at this point...

Saturday, November 8

calming down

Yesterday I took the morning off to go to a morning yoga class. I used to do yoga quite a bit, but in the past few years the classes have triggered stomach aches, and once I had to run out to throw up during a class. Needless to say, I've cut down on yoga.

Yesterday was different, perhaps because I have been so stressed. In any case, it was like rediscovering an old friend. I left the class feeling very relaxed, and the feeling has continued through today. I would like to make it more of a practice, and hopefully it will help me keep my stress levels down.

I spent most of this rainy day today spinning wool, knitting, cooking and talking on the phone with an old friend, and all of it was good for my soul. Christopher and I baked a pumpkin pie using a pumpkin I bought at the Coop yesterday. It was delicious though very gingery.

On a completely other note, has anyone seen these Japanese cat videos on YouTube or Gothamist? This one especially cracks me up.

Wednesday, November 5


I can't really put into words how relieved I am with the results of the election. To be honest, I'm still a little numb.

At 11pm last night, watching a hoarse Jim Lehrer on PBS, we learned that California had gone to Obama and that therefore the election was being called in his favor. Almost immediately the screaming started, sounds of celebration from our neighbors. I opened the window and leaned out, watching cars honk at small groups of revelers. It was eerily like New Year's Eve, along with firecrackers and what might have been gunshots.

I don't have any photos. To be honest there wasn't much to see where we live; it was all auditory. But in Fort Greene, a neighborhood not far from us, the streets apparently filled with celebrants. Check out the photos on this blog. I especially like the one of people mobbing the bus.

I just found this video too, from Raulism on YouTube... Dare I compare this with the Phillies winning the World Series? Two miracles in two weeks? What can possibly come next?

Tuesday, November 4


Christopher and I got up early this morning to vote. He has to teach at 11 and I have to move some furniture for my show at 9:30. We knew we'd have to wait in line, and gave ourselves an extra hour for voting.

But when we got to our polling place we found this, which is bad enough. (4 years ago I waited an hour in a line that didn't even come out of the building) But then it turned the corner and went down the street. We came home. We'll both be home mid-afternoon, and hopefully the line will be shorter then.

(PS Check it out. Brownstoner linked to my photo!)

(PPS So did the Gothamist!)

Sunday, November 2

two steps back

My final show for awhile opened on Wednesday, which means that my schedule has, or is about to, free up considerably. I feel like I should be a little nervous about the lack of work ahead, but to be honest I'm completely thrilled to be able to relax a little. Let's just hope that I don't get bored...

My dad came up yesterday to do some work on our apartment. Really we just needed him to finish patching the wall in our den, so we can paint it and send back all of the construction equipment that's been sitting in there. But the patch job turned into a realization that the molding in the den is warped and probably needs to be replaced, which is bigger project than we wanted to take on.

Outside of the kitchen, I pulled off a few feet of molding that didn't cover the whole wall, with the idea to replace it with something that went all the way around, only to discover that the plaster under the molding is rotten and needs to be redone. Dad put a few pieces of new molding on before he left, but the wall still needs work. I guess this is what happens when you get a place that has "character..."